‘Moderation Management’ Program Helps Heavy Drinkers

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Heavy drinkers are turning to a new approach in their effort to manage the habit.

Instead of going cold turkey, they’re adopting what’s called “Moderation Management.”

But it’s raising concerns about heavy drinkers who are really alcoholics and need more involved treatment.

“I’ve been counting my drinks lately and that has helped me a lot.”

Ingrid from Brooklyn says, for her, too much alcohol is not a good thing.

“It is very important to keep track of it for me at least. I had a problem with it,” she said.

Instead of trying to completely quit drinking, she now makes and keeps a very specific plan.

“I say like this many number of days a week or whatever, or this amount of drinks a week. and that helps a lot,” she said.

Ingrid isn’t part of any program, but her approach to consumption is similar to non-profit group Moderation Management.

Chairman Dr. Marc Kern says it is unlike traditional approaches to treating alcohol abuse.

“There needs to be a stepping stone before someone is willing to make a life commitment to abstain,” he said.

The program asks people to take a month off from drinking.

Then if they want to return they are allowed no more than 14 drinks a week for men and nine for women.

But they cannot drink more than three or four days a week.

“We believe we get more people into healthy drinking or abstinence than giving them a black and white understanding. It isn’t all or nothing,” said Dr. Kern.

Moderation Management is not without controversy.

In fact, the founder, a woman named Audrey Kishline, left the group because she couldn’t moderate her drinking.

She eventually got into a deadly drunken driving accident and later committed suicide.

Dr. Barbara Kistenmacher is executive director of New York’s Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

She says moderation can work for most people seeking a responsible lifestyle, but points to a CDC study that found 10 percent of adults who drink too much are alcoholics and need more involved treatment.

“We try to help that group discover ways to be abstinent. Live a life that is more consistent with what their goals and dreams are and that involves no substances,” she said.